This past weekend, we had our Grad celebration – we tried a few “new” things for our school – caps and gowns made comeback and we had the celebration over two days, not one. Grad is always a wonderful celebration of all our students’ learning, a chance to look back and ahead. I also had the pleasure of speaking to the grad class for a few minutes – here is what I had to say.
Good evening ladies and gentlemen, honoured guests, Bloom families, community members, and grads of 2016. I would like to recognize the traditional territory of the Okanagan people on which we learn and celebrate tonight.
I have the great honour of being the proud principal of Charles Bloom and fortunate enough to have worked with this group of students for the past 5 years. While all our graduating years of students are special, this one is especially important to me as this is the first group of students I taught when I arrived at Charles Bloom – Math 8 and what a memorable class it was. It has been wonderful to see each of you in this grad class grow and learn over our time at Bloom together. I know that during the years leading up to graduation there have been people who have supported you along the way – to each of you that join us tonight – I say thank you for supporting these amazing grads – they couldn’t have done it without you. Grads, please make sure you find the time to say thank you to all those that supported you in your learning journey.
When describing your grad class words such as diverse, creative, approachable and independent come to mind. It is these qualities as a collective that make you a formidable group – and one that I have enjoyed working with over my 5 years at Bloom. Your individuality and sense of self is refreshing and your ability to communicate your own needs as well as your group’s needs is impressive. While your individual struggles have similarity, each of you possess a strength and drive that let you work through your obstacles – this strength will serve you well in your future.
Along with you, I have learned many things over my 5 years at Bloom and for that I say thank you. As individuals and as a group, your willingness to share your opinions about our school and how we can change it for the better have been appreciated. As students you have experienced lots of change at Bloom and your ability to learn within this change is apparent. Please remember that you don’t have to be in school to learn and gain knowledge – seek out places and opportunities for you to learn and grow.
One of my favourite things to do each day is have dinner with my family – we sit, eat and chat about each other’s day, what we learned, my wife and I chat about our work day, Maya and Emmett tell us about their playtime with friends and sometimes they ask “how many kids got into trouble at Charles Bloom today dad?” What I love about this time is that is our chance to tell our own story. Grads, I want you to think about writing, and telling, your own story – and yes, you do have the power to write your own story – about your life and your career. You have had wonderful teachers and supports thus far, hopefully you have found some inspiration during these opening chapters in your story – remember, it is your story and you control the plot.
When you tell story I also want you try and answer this question “what is my gift?” This isn’t a gift in a material sense, because you have graduated or it is your birthday, but your gift is your special talent or ability that you possess. Your gift doesn’t have to be earth shattering or grand, it is the one thing that each of you is good at. And believe me when I say, each of you has a gift – some of you know what it is, some of you don’t – that is okay. When you do find out what your gift is, the more important question then becomes how will you use it? Will you have the courage to try? To use your gift and follow your passion, I sure hope so. For me, if you don’t try, if you don’t take that leap of faith and use your gift – you are existing in life and not living your life.
Before wrapping up, I wanted to share a couple of quotes for you to think about.
The first quote is from Drake, who says: “Pain makes you stronger. Fear makes braver. Heartbreak makes you wiser.” (end quote) You will experience these emotions in your future, if you haven’t already, and the true sign of your character is how you respond, persevere and grow through your difficulties.
The second quote is from Lupita Nyong’o who said “No matter where you are from, your dreams are valid”. (end quote) Rural community or city, school of 340 or school of 1000 – dreams don’t know the difference – pursue yours with vigour.
Grads, as you leave our Bloom nest and move onto writing your next section of your story – be proud of where you are from – it makes you unique. Have the courage to use your gift and live life, do not just exist. And as you move through life and encounter successes and obstacles – be strong, brave and wise.
Congratulations to each of you and our Charles Bloom grad class of 2016, you make us all proud and I wish you every success in your future.